Topics include Dining Scene, Malaysia: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Malaysia/Kuala Lumpur is a generally safe place for all. However, there is no harm practising common sense and precautions like you would do at home.
Most Malaysians can speak in English well so there should not be any problem communicating with the locals since English is the second language.
Before you leave
1. Sort out and check your travel documents, hotel bookings, tour bookings, flight tickets etc.
2. Compile and print and list of important emergency numbers like your Embassy number in KL, your bank numbers, credit card companies, whom to contact in case of emergency. Malaysian emergency number is 999 or 112 from a mobile phone.
3. Print out a list of hotels you are staying in Malaysia and their contact numbers plus your flight details and give this to your family member/trusted friend in case of emergency.
4. Make photocopies of all your credit cards, passport and other documents you are bringing along to Malaysia. Keep one copy in your lugage and leave the other copy at home. In case any cards get stolen, its much easier to get a replacement if you show them the photocopy. Print out all the emails from the hotels that has details regarding your booking and other vouchers. This will assist you in case of confusion (i.e. hotel says your booking comes without breakfast but you received and email from them stating that it comes with breakfast).
5. Call your credit card companies up and inform them that you will be on holiday in Malaysia.
6. Clean out your purse and leave unneccessary documents/cards.
7. Sort out your money and cards. Bring an extra pouch for all the coins and split your money up into a mix of cards, cash and travelers cheques. Do not leave everything in one purse or one bag.
8. Try not to disclose the fact that you are going for a long holiday and that no one will be at home. This might attract burglars. Only inform your closest and most trusted family members/friends. Get a neighbor to collect your letters from the letter box and your newspapers on a regular basis so that no one will notice that you are not at home. Buy a low-energy light/lamp that can be programed to switch on and off automatically so there is a light at home.
9. DO NOT accept offers for tours, hotel bookings etc from strangers who contact you through the TA messaging system. You do not know these persons/company.
When you are there
Violent crime involving tourists and expatriates in Malaysia is relatively uncommon. Petty theft, particularly purse snatching and pick-pocketing, and residential burglaries are the most common criminal activity directed against foreigners. Malaysia’s national emergency number is 999 (equivalent to the U.S. 911 or UK 999).
1. Do not leave your valuables, passports, important documents, camera, jewellery unattended EVEN if its in your hotel room. Do not trust the hotel housekeeping staff and lock up your valuebles in your room safe or at the reception safe.
2. Do not keep all your money or credit cards in one place; split your cash and cards up in different places and do not bring too much money in your wallet.
Two men on a motorcycle/in a car would speed up from behind a victim and the passenger on the back snatches the handbag or anything they can get their hands on including necklaces, bangles, watches, chains etc. These thefts can occur ANYTIME and ANYWHERE even in upscale neighborhoods or right in front of the crowd outside a crowded shopping mall. Women walking by themselves or with small children are the most common targets. How to AVOID becoming victim of the snatch thieves:
- Be alert at ALL times and be aware of your surroundings.
- Walk facing traffic and keep a close eye on on the traffic esp on motorcyclists and cars with the windows down. Walk on the sidewalk away from the curb and KEEP YOUR BAGS on the other side, not on the side of the road.
- Avoid walking down poorly lit streets, shortcuts, and narrow alleys.
- Keep your bags closed and tucked under the arm. A huge bag with small handles might be stylish but they are easy targets for snatch thieves.
- DO NOT wear Bling Bling huge gold jewellery even if its gold-plated or a pair of expensive sunglasses with diamonds on the side. Statement jewellery is pretty yes; but it will attract snatch-thieves.
4. Pick pockets- Beware if you are taking public transport e.g monorail or bus,please be careful as usually they will either work in a group or individual.Please make sure that you keep your wallet in front of your pockets all the time and make sure it is secured all the time.Another example, these professionals will purposely dropped some coins in front of you , when you bend down to pick it up,your wallet will be long gone before you realise even you keep it in front of your pockets.
Do not leave your purse loosely in the back pocket of your jeans/pants. Keep it somewhere hard to reach.
6. Credit Card Fraud: Credit card fraud continues to be a problem in Malaysia, although enhanced technology has somewhat reduced reported instances of fraud. Keep an eye on your cards and keep all the receipts in case something happens and you can clarify it with the bank. When dining in the hotel, try to keep the bills on a tab and charge everything to your room and pay when you check-out instead of swiping your cards every night. Card fraud is a problem the world round, so be wary of cloning machines on ATMS and don't let your card out of your sight.
7. Withdrawing money at the ATM:
- DO NOT Write your PIN and stick it with a sticky note with your card!
- know what a cloning machine might look like so you can get any ATM a check
- Try to withdraw small sums and not huge stacks of notes at one time and DO NOT flash your cash around even if its in the bank.
- Be discreet, cover the PIN pad with your other hand when entering your PIN.
- Look for ATMs that are inside a bank and try not to withdraw cash in the middle of the night or from an ATM that is situated outside by the pedestrian walkway.
8. Drug addicts, beggars and donations scams:
- Drug addicts and beggars are everywhere in the city.
- Drug addicts don't usually pose much danger to travelers, but some are very desperate and they will break into your room to steal anything they can (slippers, towels, luggage) to sell and buy drugs. Keep your rooms locked at all times. Don't approach drug addicts and stay far away from them.
- There has been casses of people and monks asking for donations. If you feel that its not for a genuine cause, walk away and don't even say anything. Keep silent as if you didn't understand them and mutter some foreign language so they will go away. If they get aggresive (rarely happens); walk away immediately.
- You might get pestered by beggars when dining along the roadside like at Jalan Alor or Petaling street. Give them a few coins so they will leave you in peace or if they start crying and moaning or behave aggresively. But if you feel uncomfortable giving any coins, just keep silent and continue ignoring them.
9.Avoid walking down dark alleys and lonely roads. Places like Bintang Walk and golden triangle are generally safe at night and its very crowded with late-night diners and pub crawlers till the wee hours of the morning. Stay within the crowd.
10. Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth like wearing a huge Rolex gold watch or a thick gold chain. You will only be an easy target for criminals.
Safety tips for Lone Women travelers
Malaysia/Kuala Lumpur is a generally safe place for women traveling alone. However, do practise common sense like you would do at home and understand that Malaysia is a country with majority of Muslims. Here are some tips for ladies travelling alone:
1. Dressing up or dressing down.
- Try not to wear skimpy clothes everywhere you go and pair if with huge pair of expensive sunglasses with diamonds and huge jewelery and don't carry a huge branded bag which is open around the top around everywhere you go; people will either disturb you or you will be a potential victim for snatch thieves/pickpockets if you pull too much attention.
- While skimpy clothes and open-back dresses are completely acceptable in most city clubs and discos after sunset; its NOT common to wear such things while sightseeing during day. Not only will you get a terribly sunburn on your back and legs; you might be refused entry to some places like the mosques. Many Hotel restaurants has got dress codes for ladies and gents; and they might refuse entry if you show up with a pair of hot shorts and bikini top.
- Bring a bag with a full zip on the top (also if you travel to other countries) but Malaysia still safe to use unzip bag and never ever leave your bag even for a short while on the floor when you are trying out clothes.
- Statement jewellery is IN at the moment, but wearing huge golden shiny earings and a thick gold chain will only make you an easy target for snatch thieves to grab. Not to mention the pain involved when your earings are torn out from your ear lobes. Wear something decent and not too big or goldish.
- High Heels and platform shoes are cool trends for the summer; but they will kill your feet in Malaysia. Most pavements and pedestrian walkways are uneven and rotten in some parts; at most times, you have to walk on the hot and hard asphalt roads. Your 4-inch heels are most probably going to get stuck in the next drain cover or you will wear them off at the bottom after minutes on the ashphalt. Keep your expensive heels for the next party, and bring your most comfortable pair of walking shoes with lots of circulation.
There is always glass, dirt, cigarettes, dung, durian shells etc on the roads; so make sure your shoes fit properly and has a good bottoms sole.
Comfortable and cheap walking shoes are available in most malls.
2. Money, money, Money; Must be funny; in a rich gals world.
- If you have set a budget of a few hundred thousand dollars for shopping in KL, good for you! But the others don't have to know!!!
- Even when shopping in a huge shopping complex for your new LV or Chanel bag; never ever pull out your mega huge purse stacked to the rim with cash and bills. Split and keep your money in seperate purses or pay with the card. You will never know who is standing around the shop and catches and glimpse of the case. He/She might follow you around until he/she has the chance to get hold of the money.
- Never attract unwanted attention with your cash.
- Get a seperated purse for small coins and small cash so your don't have to pull out your thousand dollar purse when you need to pay for a RM10 cab fare.
Public toilets in Malaysia are improving but still very unfriendly for women; esp Western women.
- There has been casses of peeping toms and perverse men in womens toilets. Try not avoid going into a lonely toilet and alway look up and around for any cameras or sick people.
- Most toilets are western style but there will also be at least one squatting cubicle in toilets. Try to practise squating before you go to avoid falling into the toilet (its quite big) (it's the normal size here) when you are in Malaysia. These toilets are similar to ones sometomes found in rural France.
- If you find a sitting toilet, you may notice the seat is disgustingly full of shoes marks because locals like to use a Western toilet squatting style. Always bring disinfecting baby wipes (you can buy them in Malaysia) and wipe before you sit. This isn't a problem in toilets in malls etc.
- Many public toilets won't have toilet paper, so please bring your own.
- Toilet floors usually one step down. they can be flooded with water because many women use water to clean themselves after that and not tissue paper. Get a pair of good covered shoes that won't slip in the watery toilets and a covered one so the water won't wet your feet. Fold your long pants up before you go in.
If you are catching a cab alone, NEVER EVER sit in the front passenger seat with the driver. Sit at the back.
Try not to catch a cab alone half-drunk in the middle of the night after a pub visit and never take up an offer for a ride with a stranger home.
Note the cab number you are taking.
5. There has been reports of women being molested in lifts while being alone. Try not to take the lift in a lonely place with another man.
6. ATTEND to your drinks at the club, never leave them alone even for a short while.
7. In many states, it is not the norm for a woman to touch and man's hand. When you purchase something, try to leave the money on the table for him or wait until he calls his lady employees/wife/daugther to come to attend to you like to help you try on some clothes.
Staying healthy in Kuala Lumpur
1. Kuala Lumpur is a generally hot and humid city. Drink plenty of water and avoid strenous activities in the full midday hot sun. In hotels that provide coffee/tea making facilities, check the heating element of the kettle, to ascertain if it is encrusted with minerals deposit; if so, have it descale or replace with a clean one. Use it to boil water and in making your coffee or tea, mix in proportion mineral water and this boiled water. This allows your water system to adapt to the local water.
2. Malaysian food can get rather spicy and hot. Always bring medication for stomach upset or diarrhea if you have had problems with spicy food or stomach upset.
3. Talk to your GP a few months before you plan to travel to stock up on your medication or for vaccinations.
4. Babies and young children are prone to nappy rashes in the hot and humid country. Buy baby powder and clean the affected parts regularly. Baby powder and diapers are available in pharmacies like Guardian and Watsons in most malls.
5. Pack your sunscreen and DEET sprays.
6. Consult your country travel-health website before departure.
7. IDo consult hotel concierge of nearest clinic or 24 hours hospital with Accident and emergencies, in order to be prepared in the event the unwanted occurs.
8. For those planning to go on the wildside, namely trekking in the jungles, particularly in Borneo, do please consult your family GP if malaria tablets or other vaccinations are required, particularly if one had travelled to Africa in the last six(6) months. For those requiring protection from insects, particularly mosquitoes, obtain an insect repellant with DEET, or mixing baby oil in proportion with Dettol. In some resort hotels, fogging could be done, and as such if you have any respiratory problem or allergic rhinitis, enquire with hotel staff if fogging is carried out and check on its schedule. Food must be covered during this fogging.
9. Jellyfishes might lurk around the waters of Malaysia. Seek immediate seek medical treatment if you are stung.
Haze. From June to October every year during the dry season where the neigbouring country as well as the area surrounding Kuala Lumpur area conduct thier annual slash and burn on thier farm land. The West coast of Malaysia is usually badly affected and sometimes the East coast is not spared. This year (2006) is especially bad and could be worst than 1997. The entire city of KL is blanketed with smoke from the open burning and visibility is down to 1-2 kilometres. Can not rely on the Government API reading as they have a different standard of calculation from the rest of the world. Best to stay clear at these times or you will be wasting a trip especially if you have respiratory problems.